Travel Advisory Panama by fxj14137

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                                                  Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                  Travel Advisory
                                                  Australian Government

Travel Advisory: Panama
Australian Government
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


The Advice was issued on Tuesday, 01 March 2005, 16:56:36, AEDT.

This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information on
Safety and Security and Entry and Exit Requirements. The overall level of
the advice has not changed.

Australians in Panama should exercise caution and monitor developments
that might affect their safety. As you would in Australia, use common sense
and be alert to suspicious activities. Be aware of concern about the security
environment because of a risk of criminal activity and incidents of local
unrest. You should be vigilant and watch the media for information about
possible new safety or security threats.

Australians should avoid travel to the Darien Gap, beyond Yaviza.

Safety and Security

Terrorism

Australian travellers should be aware of the threat of terrorism globally and
should read this travel advice in conjunction with the General Advice to
Australian Travellers.

Australians should avoid travel to the Darien Gap, beyond Yaviza (a
Panamanian government declared 'Red Zone'). The border area between
Panama and Colombia is very volatile due to the presence of Colombian
terrorist groups and drug traffickers. A number of foreigners have been
kidnapped and murdered in this area.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension

Demonstrations occur frequently in the capital, Panama City, and may turn
violent.


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                                                  Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                  Travel Advisory
                                                  Australian Government

Personal Security

Crime is prevalent, including armed robbery, muggings and bag snatching.
There have been incidents, particularly in Panama City and Colon, of
‘express kidnappings' where a victim is forced to remove funds from an
automatic teller machine (ATM) in order to secure their release. Tourists
have been targeted by armed robbers, especially at Madden Dam. Pick-
pocketing is prevalent at airports, bus terminals and on public transport.

Prior to travel, Australians should ensure they have a variety of financial
options available to them including credit cards, travellers' cheques and cash.
Australians should consult their automatic teller machine (ATM) card
provider for information about overseas services and availability. Not all
overseas ATMs accept Australian cards.

Australians should only carry sufficient cash for their daily needs, secure
their valuables against theft and avoid displays of wealth at all times.
Photocopies of valuables such as passport, tickets, driving licence and
travellers' cheques should be kept separately from the originals.

In many countries, passports are a prime target of theft for illegal purposes.
Your passport should always be kept in a safe place, as considerable
inconvenience and disruption to travel plans may result from its theft or loss.
If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, contact the nearest Australian
Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local Conditions

Tocumen International Airport, in Panama City, is the only airport in
Panama known to maintain international airport security measures. Small
Panamanian domestic air carriers may not meet Australian safety standards.

Drownings have occurred at beaches in Panama. Life guards are limited and
conditions can become dangerous with little warning.

Panama is located in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes.
The rainy season extends from May to December. In the event of a natural
disaster local authorities will provide advice.


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                                                  Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                  Travel Advisory
                                                  Australian Government

Local Law and Customs

Australians are reminded that when overseas, they are subject to local laws.
Local laws and legal processes can be very different from those in Australia.
A violation of local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local
prison. Consular assistance cannot override local law, even where local laws
may appear harsh or unjust by Australian standards. Penalties for drug
offences are severe and may include imprisonment. Being in the company of
someone using illicit drugs or being in possession of a very small quantity
are grounds for arrest.

There are curfews in Panama City for minors under 18 years of age.

Taking photographs, particularly of children and women, may be met with
suspicion and violence. Permission should be sought from an adult before
taking photographs of, or talking to, children.

Some Australian criminal laws, including - but not limited to - those relating
to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child
sex tourism, have extraterritorial effect. Australians who commit such
offences outside of Australia may be prosecuted in Australia for those
offences.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of
children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home
under Australian child sex tourism laws. These laws provide severe penalties
of up to 17 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in sexual
activity with children under 16 while outside of Australia.

Entry and Exit Requirements

Visa conditions are subject to change. For up-to-date visa information,
Australians should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Panama,
well in advance of travel.

Australians travelling to Panama, through the United States of America
(USA), including those in transit in Honolulu or other USA points of entry,
should be aware of the need to meet USA entry/transit requirements.


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                                                 Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                 Travel Advisory
                                                 Australian Government

Travellers to Panama are therefore recommended to check their visa needs
well in advance of travel with the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
This advice should be read in conjunction with our travel advice for the
USA.

Central American airlines will not accept passengers for US destinations
without demonstrating onward or return tickets, even if the person may be
eligible to enter the USA under the visa waiver program.

Health Issues

For information on prevalent diseases and inoculations, travellers should
consult their doctor, travel clinic or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Further information can be found in our 'Travelling Well' brochure.

Malaria and mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent throughout Panama,
primarily but not exclusively, during the wet season (May to November).

Many doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing
services, even in an emergency. Medical emergencies may require
evacuation to a third country, most likely the USA, where the cost of
medical treatment can be extremely high.

Travel and Health Insurance

Travel and health insurance is strongly recommended for all overseas travel.
Travellers should check with their insurer to make sure that their policy
meets their needs. In particular, travellers should seek advice from their
insurer on what type of circumstances and activities are the subject of
exclusions in their policy.




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                                                   Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                   Travel Advisory
                                                   Australian Government

Consular Assistance and Registration

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Panama. Australians
may obtain consular assistance and should register with the nearest
Australian Panama. This is in Mexico at:

Australian Embassy
Ruben Dario 55
Col. Polanco, C.P. 11560
Mexico D.F. MEXICO
Telephone (52 55) 1101 2200
Facsimile (52 55) 1101 2201
Email embaustmex@yahoo.com.mx.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade offers an on-line registration
service. The registration information provided by you will help us to find
you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a
family emergency.

Limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian
passports, may be obtained from:

British Embassy
Torre Swiss Bank
Calle 53 4o. Piso
Zona 1, Panama City, PANAMA
Telephone (502) 269 0866
Facsimile (502) 223 0730

Australians planning travel and those overseas are encouraged to monitor
our travel advice updates, including through use of our free subscription
service, at smartraveller.gov.au.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted
on (02) 6261 3305.




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                                                    Panama (March 1, 2005)
                                                    Travel Advisory
                                                    Australian Government




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